Janus Has One Good Eye

Janus, was it you or the dog, with you both being named Janus, that was named Janus first?

Well, Mum wanted me called Jan, after her Dad, my Granddad. Don’t know if that was his full name or short for something. Janitor hardly seems likely, although in my memory I always think of Granddad rattling a bunch of keys, you know, as some men used to do before electronic key-cards came along, ever rattling them as if the whole world belonged to them…

Jan always seems like a woman’s name to me, like Jane or Janet in those books we used to learn to read from when we were small. But Janus, how did you become Janus?

I don’t know much about the original Janus other than that he had two faces or something like that. And my dog, by the way, was named Jackal not Janus. Don’t know how you thought his name was Janus, as well as me. But he didn’t really look like a jackal, it just seemed better than plain Jack. And he did have an evil streak.  Bayed like a hound at the moon. And he sort of bayed or, rather, prayed to the dawn, I then imagined, prayed for it to return every night when night seemed at its darkest, as if dawn were just about to break but wouldn’t break unless he bayed at it, prayed to it! …. An exercise in futility, I always thought, when being woken up by his antics or being already awake waiting for him to start his noise in the kennel.

Kennel? Hold on, let me get this down on paper or at least as an electronic text. My boss will want a report from me when we’ve finished all these sessions. The fact that your dog wasn’t named Janus like you, or after you, or before you, might be very important. All previous records showed that he was called Janus at some stage

No, it was definitely Jackal all the time I knew him. Mum never called him anything but Jackal. I think he once belonged to the Captain…

The Captain? That’s the first we’ve ever heard of the Captain? Who was he?

Someone Mum once knew. She could only talk about him when my father was out of the room. And I instinctively knew not to mention the Captain unless I was alone with Mum. An unstated rule. It was the Captain who had taken over Granddad’s keys when Granddad died. Oh dear, just thought – I’ve probably broken some unwritten rule in mentioning the Captain to you at all. Guess you’re trained in making your questions disarming, eh?

No, Janus, anything I ask is sincere and in your own interests for others to know about. I have no ulterior motives. My boss told me not to force any issues nor to pursue any questions you don’t want to be asked. I can erase any reference to the Captain, if you like.


Now, can I ask about when you lost one of your eyes. Its socket seems well-healed so I assume it was some time ago?

It wasn’t Jackal who done it.

Did it, not done it! Anyway, I didn’t think it was the dog. I thought it was you, Janus, deliberately…?

It must soon be daybreak.

Hmmm. Not yet. But I’ll be going soon enough. I’ll be back later … after dusk.

I can see a speck of light out on the sea already.

That’s a ship. That’s not the sun.

How many going to turn up today at the quay?

Not as many as usual. They are now keeping some back to haul coal in mines elsewhere.

I never liked Dad keeping them in locked kennels.

Ah … did your Mum know about that?

She must have known about it. Dad couldn’t hide the noises they made. She turned a blind eye.

They were better looked after in the old days, as the records have it. Your Granddad’s keys were probably just for show. …Ah, I now sense dawn is indeed here. You were right. Shall go very soon even though it’s still strangely darker than it was a few minutes ago.

Bye, Clive, you done for now, you think…till next time?

Don’t call me Clive. It’s disrespectful to someone of my age and of your blood….

Bye, Granddad’s Army, then? Hmm, he’s already gone … ‘just before daylight switches on like an electronic device’ as they say in my favourite old Sci Fi book. Gone back to someone he calls boss and I call captain and you call someone else. Perhaps another name beginning with J and ending with Us. … I’m done…. I’m talking like a damned figure of speech or a speech I’ve learnt by rote from a play. … Teardrops are fine by half, but not forever.

Illustration by Tony Lovell – originally for the Ha of Ha.

The above electronic text is another DFL thingie commissioned by GS Carnivals of TLO by means of his provision of the title. Others similarly HERE.


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3 responses to “Janus Has One Good Eye

  1. I’m not entirely clear what this extract is from?

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